By Yvette Styner, Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Most people think sugar is just dangerous if you fear gaining weight, or if you’re diabetic. However, sugar plays a leading role in almost every disease and health condition there is. Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful. It contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes – only empty calories. Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says, “white refined sugar is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11. It has 12 carbon atoms, 22 hydrogen atoms 11 oxygen atoms, and absolutely nothing else to offer”. The chemical formula for cocaine is C17H21NO4. For all practical purposes, the difference is that sugar is missing the “N”, or nitrogen atom. (www.rense.com/general45/sugar)
Sugar is addictive.
“Although controversial, a growing body of evidence points to the addictive potential of sugar. Sugar and processed foods flood the brain with the feel-good chemical dopamine, over time changing the function of the brain. In a study by researchers at Yale University, the simple sight of a milkshake activated the same reward centers of the brain as cocaine among people with addictive eating habits. A 2007 study showed that rats actually prefer sugar water to cocaine. Rats given fatty and sugary products demonstrated classic symptoms of addiction including tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the products were taken away.” (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps)
Made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, sugar (or sucrose) is a carbohydrate. Sucrose is made up of two simpler sugars: fructose and glucose. Sucrose is also naturally in plants, including fruits. There is a difference between natural occurring sucrose in plants and the sucrose found in granulated sugar or the high fructose corn syrup often used to sweeten processed foods. Both granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup go through a refining process. There are volumes upon volumes of scientific data on these different components of sugar. The scary thing is that limiting or avoiding the common sweets (cakes, cookies, and candy) won’t shield you from the hidden high fructose corn syrup found in common processed foods that don’t necessarily even taste sweet, such as salad dressings, ketchup, jams, sauces, ice cream, crackers/chips, packaged granola bars and snacks, even flavored and low-fat yogurts and mayonnaise.
For a list High Fructose Foods: see http://www.celestialhealing.net/Food_contain_HFCS.html
Refined sugar is at the root of chronic inflammation, which impacts the immune system, the brain and other systems in the body. It significantly depresses the immune system. Studies have shown that consumption of 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas, 2 Crave cupcakes or a medium DQ chocolate blizzard) can cause up to a fifty percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria. The immune suppression was noticeable almost immediately (within half an hour), most noticeable two hours post-ingestion, and the effect was still evident five hours after ingestion.
I've experienced it many times myself; times that I may be feeling like I'm fighting a bit of a sore throat or stuffy nose. I'll have a sugar indulgence in the form of my favorite chocolate or a big dessert after a treat meal out, and boom - within the hour I'm feeling lousy! Considering the wide-spread flu hitting hard this season, this is another compelling reason to stay away from the white poison!
Effects on mood
Anyone who doubts the relationship between sugar and mood need only spend an evening with a child who’s consumed a candy bar and a can of soda pop! Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose, it’s no surprise that sugar greatly affects us neurologically as our blood sugars soar and plummet with consumption. People who suffer from depression and/or anxiety are especially vulnerable to sugar’s evil power. Sugar impairs the body’s ability to cope with stress. It can lead to difficulties concentrating and fatigue, both of which may be interpreted as signs of anxiety. A sugar high and subsequent crash can also cause shaking and tension, which can also make anxiety worse. (www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps)
Sugar raises the serotonin level in our brain, the “feel-good” chemical. Over time, with continuous increased intake of sugar, the body cuts back on it’s own natural serotonin production and balance, leading to increased cravings for continued sugar. (www.evolvingwellness.com/essay/health-effects-of-sugar-on-your-body-the-bitter-truth). It's a vicious cycle.
Sugar Causes Tooth Decay
Pretty common knowledge, right? But most of us have been raised to believe that it's excessive sugar itself that causes dental decay. That's not the full story, however. While sugar itself can be slightly corrosive, depending on its concentration and material it comes in contact with, what causes most cavities is bacteria. Cavity causing bacteria feed on sugar. Hence, the more sugar we eat, the more bacteria we have… which leads to many problems, including damage to our to our teeth.
Need a few more reasons to cut the white poison?
- Refined sugar is void of all nutrients, therefore it causes the body to deplete its own stores of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes to process it. When you consume sugar, your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize this incomplete food. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to make use of the sugar. Many times, so much calcium is used to neutralize the effects of sugar that the bones become osteoporotic due to the withdrawn calcium. Likewise, teeth are affected.
- Sugar causes artery damage, inflammation of the arteries and hence weaker arteries. This is due to the biochemistry of what it does as it travels through the blood stream in large, especially poorly regulated amounts, if our pancreas is stressed and having a hard time with the correct production and use of insulin. This makes one more susceptible to clogged arteries, hypertension, weak arteries, strokes and heart attacks.
- A recent article in the British Medical Journal, entitled The Sweet Road to Gallstones, reported that refined sugar may be one of the major risk factors in gallstone disease. Gallstones are composed of fats and calcium. Sugar can upset all of the minerals, and one of the minerals, calcium, can become toxic or nonfunctioning, depositing itself anywhere in the body, including the gallbladder.
- Sugar causes our pancreas to overwork in its production of insulin, leading to insulin resistance and other problems, which manifest as the known diabetes type 2. So even if our pancreas has not reached the dysfunction of rendering us diabetic, excessive sugar consumption is undoubtedly none-the-less creating a degree of undue stress on the pancreas.
- The BIG Issue for many: Weight. Glucose is our body's number one fuel or energy source, and generally speaking all sugar breaks down into glucose. For many people, there is a huge discrepancy between how much fuel is needed and how much we provide. Whenever there is an excess in energy, whether from sugar calories, protein calories or fat calories, they all get converted to and stored in fat cells. Hence, it is no surprise that high sugar diets lead to weight problems.
TIPS to COMBAT the SUGAR HABIT
Depending on how much processed refined sugars are currently in your diet, when you cut it you’ll likely experience some degree of withdrawal symptoms; such as poor energy, depressed mood, headaches, irritability and intense cravings. I promise you, this will pass. Firstly, hang in there! If you haven’t already, get rid of all sugar products in your home and work place. If it’s there, it’s too easy to reach for when the cravings hit. To help with irritability, pamper yourself in ways that are good for your body: exercise, take a hot bath, watch your favorite show while sipping herbal teas. Drink lots of water to help flush the body. It will also help to reprogram your brain; if every time you crave sugar you drink a glass of water, not only will you be hydrating yourself but will soon crave health-promoting water instead of sugar. Additionally, be sure to include adequate amounts of protein in your diet. Protein helps to metabolize the carbohydrates we eat, thus helping to balance our blood sugar levels and reduce cravings. When preparing and snacking on chicken breasts or other protein rich food isn’t an option, supplement with a low-sugar, low-processed and natural protein powder such as DYNAMIS REFUEL s6k. It’s an organic whey product, sweetened with stevia (a more natural sweetener option) and the flavors are so delicious you will feel like you are having a treat! Check our recipe link for yummy sweet snacks that make a healthy alternative to the white poison.
By Yvette Styner, Certified Holistic Nutritionist